What are the causes of thinning skin?


Even if you are in good shape--you exercise, lift weights, eat right--there is still a good chance that you are going to notice some changes, and not favourable ones, in your skin as you age.

Skin does thin as we get older and that's due to numerous reasons, some of which we could have prevented when we were younger (e.g., sun exposure), others of which we don't have a whole lot of control over. However, it's never too late to start protecting your skin and doing what you can do to prevent further damage and thinning to the skin.

Skin Thinning Happens With Age

As we age, the fatty substances, as well as the layers of fat in our skin, diminish. Collagen and elastin, which support our skin structure, weaken and our skin becomes thin, crepey and saggy, according to Healthboards.com. As the male hormone testosterone diminishes in both men and women, our skin begins to thin. The Mayo Clinic reports that as we age that protective fatty layer, that we had when we were younger and which protected our blood vessels against injury, becomes thinner.

Sun Exposure Increases Skin Thinning

Collagen loss is accelerated by ultraviolet light from the sun. According to Thedermblog.com, thin, papery skin generally occurs on the arms and hands because these body parts have been subjected to extreme exposure to the sun over the years. Interestingly, most people will have thinner skin on the left arm than the right because they have driven, for years, with their right arm extended outside of the driver's side window. Some skin is simply more fragile and more susceptible to damage from the sun. Even if your skin isn't of the delicate nature, if you've spent a lot of time in the sun over the years, the deep layer of your skin, which is called the dermis, will sustain damage to collagen and to the elastin fibres, which cause skin to lose its elasticity and makes the skin more delicate.

Dry Skin Affects Skin Thinning

Dry skin is more susceptible to thinning that well-hydrated skin so remember to moisturise. If you eat a diet that is rich in lean protein and, additionally, you are consuming adequate amounts of calories on a daily basis, this will strengthen your skin and help it repair itself if a tear in the skins develops.

Medications to Reduce Skin Thinning

According to Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson of the Mayo Clinic, certain medicines, including topical corticosteroids, either used topically or taken orally, can weaken the blood vessels in the skin and weaken skin in general. Do not use topical steroids if you can avoid it. Steroids hasten skin thinning.

Medical Conditions That Cause Skin Thinning

There are some medical conditions that can cause the skin to thin, according to Wrongdiagnosis.com, including Ehler's-Danlos syndrome, Frohlich syndrome, Cushing syndrome, Goltz syndrome, adrenal cancer, Cockayne Syndrome, Daentl-Townsend Syndrome, Fontaine-Farriaux-Blanckaert Syndrome, Growth Hormone Receptor Deficiency and Hutchinson Gilford Syndrome, just to name a few of the many, many syndromes that can cause thinning skin.

Genetics of Thin Skin

The Mayo Clinic notes that genetics can play a part in thin skin. If your parents had thin skin you may well too.